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New SLU Institute Focuses on Drug Discovery and Development


Saint Louis University has established the Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (SLU-IDBI). The new institute brings together researchers throughout the University in the areas of medicine, biology, engineering, and computational and applied chemistry to discover, develop and translate new medical therapies to address unmet patient needs. 

SLU-IDBI is one of the University’s largest institutes, with more than 100 highly accomplished and nationally renowned members. Collectively, these expert members have launched several startups and companies, obtained multiple patents and secured more than $37 million in drug-discovery grant funding.

Current research features the discovery and development of therapies for diseases including cancer; chronic pain; central nervous system disorders; liver disease; infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and fungal infections; genetic disorders including muscular dystrophy and lysosomal storage disease; and neglected diseases.

“The implications of our work are far-reaching,” said John Tavis, Ph.D., director of the Saint Louis University Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation. “For people and communities suffering with disease, it means we can initiate and accelerate drug and biotherapeutics development where the need is greatest. For life sciences companies, SLU-IDBI can cost-effectively increase the scientific knowledge supporting development of therapies and diagnostics to reduce financial risk and encourage interest and investment in new cures.”

The institute is interested in developing new partnerships with researchers in both industry and academia to share expertise, stimulate ideas and drive discovery. Currently, SLU-IDBI researchers are working with companies ranging from global biotech to specialized early-stage startups on both early- and advanced-stage therapeutic research. 

“Through its ongoing work, the Saint Louis University Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation provides value to its partners and hope to those who are suffering,” said Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., president of Saint Louis University. “This new institute fills a critical research gap in drug development and discovery – as it embodies our mission: the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.”

SLU-IDBI was formalized through an internal Big Ideas competition sponsored by the SLU Research Institute to define University-wide strategic research priorities. SLU-IDBI is among several projects supported by the research institute. For more information about SLU-IDBI and partnership opportunities, or to support SLU-IDBI’s work through a donation, visit the institute’s website

About the Saint Louis University Research Institute 

The Saint Louis University Research Institute advances the University’s ambition to become a preeminent center for basic and applied research. Established in 2018 through a generous gift from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, the institute provides critical funding to support outstanding researchers whose interests and areas of study span the university. The institute strives to become a national and international model for promoting teaching, learning and research that exemplifies discovery, transformative outcomes and engaged citizenship in a global society. For more information, visit

About Saint Louis University 

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 12,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.